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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond


by Elizabeth George Speare

The Witch of Blackbird Pond Chapter 16 Summary

  • Thanksgiving rolls around, but the holiday is cancelled by the new governor. No celebrations unless he declares them!
  • Everyone is disappointed (Mercy already baked pies!), but Uncle Matthew reminds them that it is better this way since the young people have been up to no good anyhow.
  • Uncle Matthew informs everyone that some rowdy rivermen illuminated William Ashby’s house with jack-o-lanterns last night. Rivermen, you say? Kit (who has to stifle a giggle) has a good idea who might have done it.
  • On Lecture Day, the culprits are to be put in the stocks. Kit can’t bear the idea of seeing Nat in the stocks with the Wood family. She sneaks out of the house early to go to the stocks alone.
  • When she arrives she sees just what she expected: three men from the Dolphin in the stocks, and one of them is Nat. A group of young boys are taunting the men. One kid throws an apple at Nat’s head.
  • Kit tries to talk to Nat, but he tells her to leave the stocks. He’s comfortable enough and he doesn’t need her pity. In fact, he quite enjoyed the look on William Ashby’s face when they pranked him.
  • Kit decides that Nat is impossible and heads to the Meeting House. When she gets there, though, she sees a post that says that the men have been banned from Wethersfield.
  • Kit’s courage fails; unable to hear the sentence against the men read aloud, she returns home. Unable to tell Mercy about Nat, she decides to go to Hannah’s instead.
  • At Hannah’s house, the old woman tells Kit not to worry – even Hannah herself has been in the stocks.
  • The subject turns to William Ashby. Why hadn’t she mentioned him to Hannah before? Hannah asks Kit if she plans to marry him – and if she loves him.
  • Kit says she doesn’t know – but it’s certainly a way to escape her uncle’s house. Hannah tells Kit that she won’t be escaping anything if she marries without love.
  • Prudence shows up to inform Hannah of the news about Nat. Wait, Prudence knows Nat too? Of, course. The two read together sometimes. This makes Kit feel strange – and a little jealous.
  • Annoyed at herself for her feelings, Kit finally delivers to Hannah the present of woolen cloth from Nat. She offers to make Hannah a dress out of it – and Prudence can help!
  • Kit wishes to make something for Prudence too, but knows that she would never be allowed to do that. She thinks about the transformation these lessons have made in Prudence.
  • Seeing Nat punished, though, has made her think about the risks they all are taking by secretly teaching Prudence. She mentions this to Hannah. Hannah says that Kit should look for an answer. Prudence protests that she always wants to come to her lessons.
  • To change the subject, Kit whips out a small copybook, bottle of ink, and pen that she has brought to teach Prudence to write.
  • Kit writes Prudence’s name on a sheet of paper and asks the girl to copy it, which she does several times.
  • Kit feels peaceful, much like she did on the day she thatched the roof with Nat. Oh, Nat. If only he was here – wait, what?! Kit shakes herself out of her “ridiculous daydream” (16.78).
  • The evening comes and Kit and Prudence must leave. The narrator hints that this is the last afternoon the three will spend together in Hannah’s cottage (16.84).
  • Back at home, Aunt Rachel fusses at Kit for missing the Lecture.
  • Then a bombshell: John Holbrook has gone and joined the militia to fight the Indian attacks in Massachusetts.
  • Aunt Rachel explains it was John’s way of “breaking” with Dr. Bulkeley (16.93). (And perhaps Judith?)
  • Judith is crying and inconsolable, but Mercy seems to understand, saying that sometimes a man “has to proves something to himself” (16.100).

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